Sunday, May 27, 2007

Red Hot Truckin' Mama

And so we're driving driving driving down the freeway towards Newcastle. It's a brief hiatus from Country Living, a quick return to Sydney and a day or two in my home town to catch up with family and friends.

We're going at 110 kms an hour and making pretty good time for once. Tricky is quiet although we're nearing lunchtime and he has the potential to become a Screaming Tomato at any moment, and then I see something on the road ahead of us, something heavy and metal, bouncing and skidding with a twirly tail thing flapping in the breeze from all the 110 km an hour vehicles driving around it.

And then suddenly crack! and smashety smashety tinkle tinkle what the fuck was that and next thing we know we're on the side of the road with watery stuff pouring out of the engine and a cracked bumper bar that's now half hanging off the car.

C thought it had fallen off a truck and indeed there was a truck parked suspiciously on the side of the freeway with a couple of fellows hovering nearby and gauging the traffic so that they could nick out and pick up the evil metal twirly thing. It was a fair way back from us but there were two more trucks stopped just ahead.

I began to steam, just as I was sure our radiator was about to do.

In my mind I put the whole story together...three trucks tooling along the freeway, crass burly drivers chatting on their radios, making jokes about drivers of small cars, counting up their Shell dockets, sipping on their coffee thermi, suddenly a swerve, a bump and whoops there goes the Metal Twirly Thing. And now here we were about to be stuck on the side of the freeway wth a potential Screaming TomatoTime Bomb and late to Newcastle, where my Dad was waiting and where we're always late and originally we looked as if we were actually going to be on time and we only had about 48 hours in the city anyway.... and...

Before I knew what I was doing i was stomping up the freeway with a very cross face.

Excuse me! I shouted up at the first two truck drivers. Are you waiting for that third truck down there? Because a Metal Twirly Thing seems to have fallen off and we've hit it and now our radiator seems to be FUCKED.

They looked down at me, a little surprised. Also, not particularly burly.

Mmm no. We're not with that truck, the first driver explained. See...we're carriers and he's a...well looks like he's a tray top...(or similar)...
And indeed yes, these trucks had a number of cars being "carried" on their double decker trailer thingys. And indeed the third truck was much smaller and had a tray type thing and no cars at all.

Also it looked as if the two fellows had finally picked up the Metal Twirly Thing and were getting back into their truck.

Right I said. And then I added pathetically...we've got a baby in the back and it makes things a bit hard...

Well it wasn't us, said the second driver, sorry love.

I walked back to our car and described the conversation to C who was looking glumly under the bonnet.

Did you really say "fucked"? he asked. I waved that aside.

It's come off that third truck, I said, knowledgeably. That...traytop truck. See, he's not with those other two, they're carriers. And I think he's going to stop for us, I added, as it slowly drove up towards us....

...and then began to pull out onto the freeway. Once again the Cross Face appeared and this time I stomped across to the side of the freeway and energetically waved at the truck.

To my surprise it pulled in again. Yes? asked a pleasant faced young man in the passenger seat.

Did you drop a Metal Twirly Thing on the road? I asked, less beligerently than before. Because we hit it and now our radiator is...failing.

Oh no, said the young man. It wasn't us. But we stopped because it's a truck tie. And they're worth eighty bucks!

Oh, I said. Right. Lucky you.

See ya, he said, and off they went.

I took a breath. In the back of the car Tricky was playing happily with his toes.

Sometimes, I thought, i don't need to be instantly angry about a situation. Sometimes I need to just relax and stop expecting the worst and also do as the Buddhists do and just, you know, pull my head in.

I felt a little light headed, as one does when one realises that one has had a lucky escape, no one was injured or killed after all, and also as one does when one's stereotypical attitudes are shown to be incorrect.

And then, because cars are not C's strongpoint, I followed my natural instincts and rang my Dad.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Letter To A Ten Month Old Nature Lover

Darling Tricky

You are TEN MONTHS OLD. TEN! Count ‘em, that’s all of your chubby brown fingers with the outrageously sharp fingernails! Now we go onto toes and we only get to do TWO of those and then you’re ONE WHOLE YEAR OLD and I spend the entire birthday kissing you all over and weeping with uncontrollable joy and avoiding photographs in case I have a snotty nose.

But let us not speak of that now because just now you are ten months and that in itself is cause for full body kissing and photographs and indeed also snot because you, me and your father have all caught some ghastly coughing, hacking, nose dripping chest heaving viral thing.

You have now officially Moved To The Country. In many ways, this is not dissimilar to your life in the city. You are still living in a share household, your parents are still ridiculously busy, they still get your meal times arse about (but less so) and you still have to gently remind them with your Screaming Tomato Impression.

You don’t have your cousins to knock about with and this is pretty sad really because you’re just getting old enough to really enjoy they’re company (although of course your love affair with Naughty Nephew the 3rd has pretty much continued unabated since…well since prebirth really when he was fascinated by your in-utero hijinks). But you do have the attention and adoration of our new house-mates, HRS and D. Both are in their early twenties so they’ve got all that… stuff, that…what do you call it, it seems so foreign to me now…oh yes. Energy.

You also have a backyard with that green pokey-out-the-ground stuff. You enjoy sitting and crawling and grabbing handfuls of the green pokey stuff. You also like very much to look at the birds. And the leaves.
In fact, You plus Nature. BFF.

I am less friendly with Nature since I encountered strange and enormous king hell moths in a public toilet at a railway station on our way to this new postcode. They looked like fat, blind, beakless sparrows. With feelers. They were also furry and motley and clinging silently to nearly every available surface which causes great unease as one tinkles and tries not to in any way disturb them. I suspect I was being punished for an evil moth destroying incident in my past. HRS took one look at them and got straight back in the car, and because she hasn’t given birth over a three day period and thus owns a Bladder Of Steel was able to wait for a service station loo at the next town along the highway.

This month I admit I have been (ahem) introducing you to television. I expect to read these words in five years time and regret them deeply but some mornings I put on a video of The Wiggles, or Teletubbies and I dance and smile and sing Hot Potato Hot Potato and Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car next to the screen and you just look at me like I’m a fucking idiot.

You stand holding onto the table I have cunningly placed in front of the tv to stop you touching the buttons and sometimes you deign to watch some small snippet – TinkyWinky wandering around with a cloud on his head, Jeff – asleep, again! But then seconds later you will drop down and crawl off stalking human prey, D or HRS or Dada, living, breathing, bleeding entertainment slaves that do all the singing and dancing and oh oh-ing of those flat 2 dimensional characters on the small screen but also pick you up and read you stories and give you finger food and take you out to look at Nature. You do like sucking on the power cord of the video player, though, so perhaps that’s progress.

Ten months means you have taken to finger foods with all the zeal of a person who has sprouted four teeth! That’s two down the bottom and two big muthas at the top. I’d take a photo of them but it’s very hard to force you to reveal the big mutha teeth. Still, you enjoy peeled fruit and cold broccoli and pizza crusts and one particularly bad evening when we were driving back from Melbourne after seeing the opening of my play and had failed to pack enough food for your dinner, you enjoyed a damp chunk of old panini which I had wrapped in a napkin the previous night and shoved in my handbag. Why I would do this is anyone’s guess, it’s not like we were kipping in a gutter and this would be our last meal for the week, but thank god I did because it released us from the grip of the Screaming Tomato for at least five precious minutes and by that time I had discovered (you see, there really is a god) a sealed package of mashed pumpkin and corn which I was able to feed you reasonably soon after the panini dregs and then you fell asleep, although not before shrieking YOU PEOPLE WITH YOUR INABILITY TO PROPERLY PLAN MY MENUS, YOU SUCK ARSE in Screaming Tomatoese.

You now use your fingers to point at baby bunting and the little black cat in your new favourite book Peach Pie Pear Plum (or whatever the hell it’s called). I have also been reading “Hairy McLairy” to you rather a lot. This is a book I seem to have loved for a great many years and to some of the more critical in our new house it even seems my sole purpose for giving birth to you was to have a captive audience for my rendition of Hairy McLairy. Top of the pops is still “My body plays music…” which always ends with a lively cha cha cha on your new maracas. HRS has adapted this tune so that the beginning goes “My parents are mental…” but she’s one of those cruel young folk with exacting standards and I know you’ll take revenge on my behalf by, say, dragging one of those hell moths in from the back yard and leaving it in her bedroom.

Oh my sweet bubba. How many times a day do your father and I look at each other and say “I love him so much.” You seem so patient and so gracious and so incredibly good humoured about the whole New Home, No Regular Meal Times, Who Are These People, Why Can’t I Suck That Power Cord scenario. Time seems to move so fast, one minute you were a squashy soft bundle who snuggled into your father every morning for a few hours extra sleep, and now you seem to be half a minute off standing by yourself and then walking and then getting a tattoo. And every half smile is a blessing, every soft wet kiss is a glimpse of heaven, every snuffly snotty laugh is music to our ears.

HRS is right, we are mental, but that’s because we’re your parents and we’re seventy sorts of smitten with you, our darling tricky boy.

Happy ten months.

Your Very Own

Ova Girl

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Dear Coffee

I love you. There I've said it and I don't care who knows. This morning I felt like such crap. Tricky was up five times during the night and I fed him every time because he has this horrid snotty nose and chesty business and I thought it was good to let him suck and also because we have people staying in the bedroom next to him and man he can cry.

And also, I was feeling the heavy burden of grant applications and manuscript corrections and changing dates for plotting meetings of tv shows I am writing (actually just one tv show, multiple meetings but one show) and also am a bit snotty myself.

But lo, I make one cup of your fragrant self and I feel magnificent! I ran skippingly down the Pubic Hair Hallway, I brushed my teeth with aplomb. (And also toothpaste) I made my necessary phone calls and I did it without fear! (To my agent, so she can deal with the multiple meeting scenario) and all this because of you, coffee, dear coffee, tasty coffee.

You stain my teeth and you give me smelly breath but I wear these things like a badge of pride because you give me back MY LIFE. Energy surges through me like wild salmon swimming upstream in a turbulent river (no idea where this stupid metaphor is going) and ends in a pool of...Getting Things Done.

Now of course I have wasted precious precious Coffee Energy writing this stupid letter but I don't care. I LOVE YOU. Do you hear me, crazy brown brew? I love your shiny beans! I love your oily residue! I even love that it takes fucking forever to make just one cup of you because C hates the plunger and insisted on only bringing the tiny stovetop coffee-maker and also because he thinks you should only grind the coffee just before consuming hence we have the coffee grinder and a massive bag of beans.

It doesn't matter. You are still beautiful. YOU COMPLETE ME.

Love OvaGirl

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The most horrible motherhood moment so far

Living in a Different House means Different Bathroom means Different Bath Tub and, in this case, means Different Taps, aka Taps That Are Fucked.

When I say 'fucked' what I actually mean is: taps that are wrongly positioned so that the tap marked Hot actually produces cold water and the tap marked Cold actually produces hot.

I think you can see where this is going.

Bath time with Tricky is fun, he has a select range of floaty bath toys and a penchant for making with the kickaboo legs. Oh yes it’s all fun and games and chirruping giggles. C and I fight over who gets to have a bath with him and C usually wins because the combination of Bath and Milk Bar is just too much fun for young Mr Trickster and it becomes tiring for me to stop him both drowning and divebombing my nipples.

But on this night, this first night, this bath night in the Different Bath, I got in, holding my baby, and as I sat down and dipped his toes in the water I thought “hmmm, this water might be a bit too warm for him, and I wonder if that was too hot on his toes, I better put his foot under the cold tap just in case.”

And then came that moment I will remember forever as in one quick movement I turned on the tap marked Cold and held his tiny little foot under the stream...

...of scalding hot water.

As soon as I did it, I realised I'd got the taps wrong and as I pulled his foot out he started to scream. I threw on the cold tap (marked Hot) and shoved his foot under a stream of cold water and now he really did scream.

And so did I, but only on the inside, on the outside I was saying in a calming voice: oh darling, I’m sorry darling, it’s alright…and alternatively calling for C to come quickly, come quickly oh please hurry…

It was so quick thank God that there was not even a red mark, and once I had put Tricky onto the milkbar for a bit he seemed happy.

And C, with a shifter and a grim look on his face, exchanged the taps to their rightful place so that now Cold will always be cold and Hot will always be hot.

We even stayed in our tepid bathwater and played with the floaty dolphin for a little while longer before getting out and continuing on with the bath/bed ritual. And in the morning there would be no sign of that horrible horrible moment.

But all through the night I kept seeing my hand pushing his foot under that scalding stream of water and later, while doing the washing up and feeling the hot hot hot water on my hands, I cried.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Denial may well be a river in Egypt but it’s also a creek in Western NSW.

Guess what?
We’ve moved Six to Eight Hours Drive away from where we lived the last time I posted here.

That's right!
I now live in... THE COUNTRY.

(*faints at realisation and then bravely picks self up*)

It’s still shocking to me too. And it goes like this:

C has this job.

It’s based in The Country for two years.

This means he’s based in The Country for two years.

Ergo, his wife and child are too.

When I say The Country, I should specify this means Country Town, not Isolated Homestead Surrounded By Dried Up Dams And Cow Skeletons, but as part of this job he (and we) will be visiting the above homesteads, discussing said dams and no doubt swooning over said skeletons.

When I was a kid, my dad was in the airforce and this meant that my family moved every two or three years. In one memorable year I moved from Penang, to Sydney, to Hoppers Crossing (you’ve never heard of it? Google and see!).

We moved from school to school and while that was a pain in terms of uniforms and exotic animals (hello, monkey raid) and saying goodbye, it was good too because if you made a dick of yourself at one school you always had the chance to start afresh.

But, being a grownup, it’s not quite as appealing.

There are all the same problems: the uniform (“I don’t have proper boots” I wailed to C, “I can’t move to The Country without proper boots!”), the exotic animals (Enormous Moths The Size Of Sparrows) and the saying goodbye (Naughty Nephews and their parents held Cricket Bat guard of honour as we sailed out through the gates of the Big House).

And of course now, as a sensible grownup, I realize that everyone makes a dick of themselves, constantly, and you never really get the chance to start again, you just have to get on with things and, ahem, love the dick within.

We are living in a big big house (no relation to the Big House sadly) with a garden, many bedrooms and wall to wall carpet.

Tricky especially enjoys this last bit because he now can do Proper Crawling and he slowly stalks up and down the carpeted hallway like a tiny Bantha.

I was going to say a tiny hairless Bantha but it seems the people who rented this house before us didn’t believe in vacuuming. They did, however, apparantly believe in rolling about naked on the carpet.

Let me say there is nothing that makes me run faster for the vacuum cleaner than the sight of my smiling baby coated in strange pubic hair.